A day – a weekend – that was shaping up so magically for Max “The Ax” Angelelli, Jordan Taylor and their No. 10 Velocity Worldwide Corvette Dallara DP team for Wayne Taylor Racing went so bad, so very suddenly when disaster struck 52 minutes from the end of Friday’s second running of the Brickyard Grand Prix GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series three-hour race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Angelelli, the veteran Italian who with his 22-year-old first-year co-driver Taylor started the day on the pole for the fourth race in a row and in the Rolex Series driver and team championship lead, just got done recording what would be the team’s race-high 34th lap led on the day when he got punted in the right-rear and spun around by NASCAR and IndyCar Series regular A.J. Allmendinger in the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley.
By the time Angelelli recovered, he was knocked well out of the top-10 and, with the race going caution-free from that point to the checkered flag, there would be no chance to make up much ground. Consequently, a component failure that may or may not have been caused by the earlier contact with Allmendinger led Angelelli to smack the turn-13 wall 10 laps from the finish, and he never returned to the race.
“Everything was fine until I got hit by the No. 6,” said a dejected Angelelli after the race. “He’s not running for the championship and he took out the race leader and the championship leader. That’s pretty bad. Later on, we were trying to recover and pick up as many positions as we could before the finish when something happened in the front of the car and I hit the wall in the final turn, and that ended it. It’s very, very disappointing, and that’s really all I have to say right now.”
Just 13 minutes prior to the fateful spin induced by Allmendinger, Angelelli was running second but made a brilliant move on a lap-61 restart to take the lead from Brian Frisselle in the No. 9 Action Express Racing Corvette DP with Dalziel in tow. It was the third time the No. 10 Corvette DP had led to that point. Angelelli had little trouble holding off Dalziel until, on a brilliant move of his own on lap 69, Dalziel snatched the lead from Angelelli as the two made their way around the left-hand turn two. Allmendinger, running a close third at the time, tried to follow suit as the trio approached the right-hand turn three, made a lazy move to try and slip inside Angelelli but could not successfully abort the move before sending Angelelli spinning, contacting the Velocity Worldwide Corvette DP behind the right-rear tire.
Allmendinger was forced to serve a 60-second penalty on pit lane for the contact that was deemed avoidable, but it was zero consolation for the Wayne Taylor Racing team, which now has a huge mountain to climb if it is to win its first Rolex Series title since 2005.
Taylor, meanwhile, drove brilliantly from his third career Daytona Prototype-class pole position he earned Friday through the first hour and 45 minutes of today’s race. He led the opening 12 laps before pitting during the first of four caution periods of the race that occurred at the 23-minute mark. He stayed on track during the day’s third caution period at the one-hour, 13-minute mark, and led the next 14 laps before pitting to turn the Velocity Worldwide Corvette DP over to Angelelli at the one-hour, 45-minute mark during the day’s fourth and final caution.
“It was good a good stint for me,” said Taylor, who co-drove with Angelelli to his first two career Daytona Prototype-class victories earlier this year at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., and the Streets of Belle Isle temporary circuit in downtown Detroit. “We didn’t really know what to expect going into the race as far as what everybody else was going to run. But I think we made the right decisions for the setup on the car. We had quite a competitive car. We led quite a bit of the race and I think it was a car capable of winning. Things just didn’t fall our way right at the end of the race. I think it was a bit of an unfortunate event. But we still have four races. We dropped so quickly the last couple of events and I think the same thing can happen to anybody else. So, we just need to stay motivated and just start going for race wins, now.”
Dalziel crossed the Yard of Bricks to take the checkered flag 3.4 seconds ahead of Scott Pruett in the runner-up No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley he shares with Memo Rojas. Alex Gurney finished third another 11 seconds back in the No. 99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP he shares with Jon Fogarty. The runner-up finish by the Ganassi team moved it into second place in the team championship, six points behind the Starworks BMW, while the Gainsco Corvette DP moved into third, 10 points out of first, and the Wayne Taylor Racing team dropped to fourth, 19 points out of the lead. In the driver championship, Pruett and Rojas, who did not score driver points when they were taken out on the very first lap at Detroit, are six points behind the third-place Angelelli and Taylor and 25 points behind the first-place Dalziel and Alex Popow. Gurney and Fogarty are second, 10 points out of the lead.